High streets suffer massive fall in shopper numbers — but footfall is creeping upwards

Bury St Edmunds on the first day of the second lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Bury St Edmunds on the first day of the second lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Footfall across retail sites in the East of England has plummeted by nearly 57% year-on-year as the effects of lockdown take their toll.

With only essential shopping allowed, the number of shoppers in towns across the region sank further than the national average of -55.4% compared to -56.7% in the east in the week beginning November 15, according to retail analysts Springboard.

But week-on-week retail outlets did see an uplift compared to the previous lockdown week.

It was inevitably shopping centres and high streets which bore the brunt of the decline at nearly -64% each, although nationally, retail park footfall was also down by -29%.

MORE — Shop Local: Coffee shops open in lockdown offering takeaway serviceWeek-on-week, however, there was an uplift in footfall overall in the East of England with numbers up by 5.7% — close to the national average of 5.9%.

But there was huge variation across the UK nations, with England accounting for the biggest dip. England’s figures were down -59.8% compared to -34.3% in Scotland, -30.4% in Northern Ireland and -29.6% in Wales.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “Footfall across UK retail destinations strengthened slightly in what was the second complete week of lockdown in England, with the annual decline in footfall in retail destinations in England now currently around double that in each of the devolved nations.

“Virtually all of the improvement in footfall occurred at each end of the week, with double digit rises from the week before on Sunday and Saturday, and far more modest uplifts during the working week.

Most Read

“It seems that despite non-essential stores being closed in England, trips to bricks and mortar stores have increased across the UK as a whole, although these were more significant in shopping centres and retail parks than in high streets.

“Surprisingly, given the lockdown in England, week on week increases in footfall in English regions were on par or larger than in the devolved nations.”